RI President-elect Gary C.K. Huang chose Light Up Rotary as his theme for 2014-15. Huang was inspired by the teachings of Chinese philosopher Confucius who said: "It is better to light a single candle, than to sit and curse the darkness."
"There are so many problems in the world, so many people who need help. Many people say, 'There's nothing I can do.' So they sit there doing nothing. Meanwhile everything stays dark," Huang told the 537 district governors and their spouses and partners who are attending the 2014 International Assembly in San Diego, California.
"The Rotary way is the Confucius way. The Rotary way is to light a candle. I light one, you light one, 1.2 million Rotarians light one. Together, we light up the world," said Huang, who is a member of the Rotary Club of Taipei in Taiwan.
After announcing his theme at the opening session of the five-day training meeting, Huang urged club members to Light Up Rotary in the coming year by hosting a Rotary Day in their community and including local Rotaract and Interact members in their service projects.
"How you Light Up Rotary is up to you," Huang said. "You know where you are strong, you know what your community needs, and you know how you can help."
Huang also shared his membership development goals, including the need for more women and young adults and his goal to increase membership to a total of 1.3 million members. He asked Rotarians to invite their spouses, family members, and friends to join Rotary.
"We need to assume leadership for building strong clubs, and that starts with bringing in new members," he said.
Addressing the status of the fight against polio, Huang noted that with the current momentum Rotary is on track to achieve full polio eradication by 2018.
"When we eradicate polio — and we will — we will have proved ourselves an organization capable of great things. And we'll be even better equipped for the next challenge we choose to take on. We'll have given the world a gift that will endure forever," he said.
By continuing to fight against polio, setting an example in local communities, and growing membership, Huang hopes to see Rotary shine brighter than ever.
"Light Up Rotary is our theme, but it is more than our theme. It is how we live in Rotary, how we think in Rotary, how we feel, how we work," Huang said. "It is how we make a difference — every day, in every club, every district, and every country where we serve."
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Read comments from the incoming class of district governors on Rotary Voices